Open House Festival....
Laura Marling, The Staves and more...
When they woke up on Friday morning, fans with tickets to the outdoor Laura Marling concert were probably hoping for good weather so they would be able to listen to her beautiful voice in the bright sunshine. Unfortunately, they have no such luck. As revellers start to arrive at Custom House Square for the gig, it's raining heavily. And it just keeps raining.
The crowd is already pretty wet by the time Mike McGoldrick and Dezi Donnelly take to the stage. Although their music would be more suited to some whisky-soaked bar than this venue, the audience still seem to enjoy their traditional folk stylings. There's nothing remotely modern about their music, but maybe that's okay.
Mike and Dezi are followed by Louise and the Pins, who perform a short set of excellent forties and fifties inspired music accompanied by a single guitar, before leaving the stage. In between the performances, it gets significantly harder to ignore the awful weather, but the quality of the acts so far has been enough to make standing in the rain just about worth it.
The Staves, a trio made up of three sisters, create music using only a guitar, a ukulele and their own voices. They have a lovely, melodic sound, so can be forgiven for their rather bland interactions with the crowd.
After their performance, the audience has to endure one final, agonizing wait before Laura Marling comes onto the stage, the temperature having dropped significantly, and the rain showing no sign of easing off.
However, as soon as she appears, the crowd seem to forget about how uncomfortable they are. She may only be a tiny figure on the stage, clad in a simple coat and jeans combination and surrounded by her band, but immediately heads turn towards her. She gives a few words of welcome and then launches straight into her first song.
Marling is the rarest of creatures in music industry nowadays, a female singer who has been able to shift thousands of albums without stripping off or churning out disposable pop. On stage, the reasons why she has become such a success really show. She keeps the audience captivated with her modern folk songs, and her beautiful voice cuts through the cold evening air.
Playing her way through a mix of tracks from her two records, as well as a little bit of new material, the crowd love it all, singing along when she's playing old favourites like 'Ghosts'. At one point, she dismisses her band and performs alone, but the sound of her music is still rich and full.
When she reaches the end of her set, the drenched crowd want more, although none is forthcoming. Almost everyone in Custom House Square may now be soaked and freezing, but it's safe to say that very few would be sorry they came today.